September 3rd, 2012
The second day of the “Budweiser” Made in America festival started out slow, sticky with a steady drizzle. (I put Budweiser in quotation marks because we were told to make sure titles of the event included the beer moniker. I pointed out the hash tag was #MadeInAmerica, much like Apple. Marketing fail—or gain for Apple, perhaps?)
While prepping in the media tent and waiting for the rain to subside, we were also told Pearl Jam was only allowing a handful of pre-approved photographers to shoot in the photo pit. Apparently, they had another release to sign before said photographers could even pass though security (in the dark, mind you). Unfortunately, we weren’t one of them. Out of all the acts there, I was surprised Pearl Jam would play prima donna. Perhaps it was for the movie that Ron Howard is making from this event (Helicopters flying overhead were reportedly filming the concert like Big Brother in the sky.) Wasn’t it the ’90s favorite grunge band who once fought against Ticketmaster for their outrageous fees? It was a day of oxymorons, really. And if you found a good spot outside MIA’s fences, like on the bridge overlooking the Rocky Stage, you could watch and hear the concert for free. (There was a party on the street when I left to catch SEPTA). You could also live stream it from Pandora or YouTube.
Then there was the tasting tent. Budweiser, known by many Philadelphians for its piss-water reputation (pardon the pun from my dispatch yesterday), decided to get crafty. So, they invited brew masters to doctor up some Bud. And guess what? It all tastes like Budweiser—some sweeter, some with wheat and some hoppy, but certainly no Allagash White minus the higher alcohol content. And the top three choices will be coming to shelves this fall!
Afterward, near Jay-Z’s VIP structure near the media tent, the “bathroom” attendant told me a woman had just walked through the grass pissing herself along the way. She was denied access. VIP or just plain P?
Alas, I digress—back to the music. Rita Ora, with her adorable British accent and fresh London style, kicked off the concert in the rain. The Hives were an energetic bunch of Swedes, jumping into the crowd—first the singer, then the guitarist—flinging ample amounts of sweat on eager fans. During the last song, Hives singer Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist ordered, multiple times, that the audience all sit down—in the rain. They resisted, of course, then he asked them to just kind of squat. I got a giggle out of that.
Meanwhile, the “clean up” crew, as they called themselves were putting the finishing touches on the Jay-Z mural. No one was really skipping today or playing the mud. This crowd seemed a lot more mellow. There was more hugging, snuggling, goofing off and kissing going on. In fact, that vibe must have floated through the air, as I spotted Jay-Z roaming through the media area twice. Once he was by himself, and once holding hands with the lovely Beyonce. Then Beyonce had a quick girl talk with Rita Ora before Pearl Jam hit the stage.
I like Eddie Vedder. I really do. His message about half the population not having an opportunity to vote really hit home. He said that means something and proceeded with a robot sounding please-vote song. When it was time to go, Jay-Z returned to the stage to make sure everyone knew who was king. And then he sang those misogynistic lyrics I have come to hate: “99 problems and a bitch ain’t one.” Eddie Vedder closed with a “Freebird” cover. (UPDATED: Duh. They closed with “Keep On Rockin’ In the Free World,” as noted by B. McManus. Forgive my 2 a.m. stupor!) Because that makes sense, right? (Cassie Hepler)